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Thursday, 21 January 2021, 6:00PM - 7:00PM
LSO St Luke's

Russian Piano Masterpieces: Scriabin

Professor Marina Frolova-Walker

Scriabin was Rachmaninov’s classmate at the Moscow Conservatoire, and he likewise received a Gold Medal for his combined studies in piano and composition. His commitment was also as unswerving as Rachmaninov’s, and yet public knowledge of his music remains hazy, especially outside of Russia, and it still has an esoteric and forbidding aura. Scriabin’s starting point was Chopin, but where others were content to pay reverent homage to that earlier master, Scriabin took him as inspiration for bold experiments in his preludes, études and above all in his great series of ten sonatas, which span his career. 

Working within the loose artistic movement known as “Symbolism”, his ambitions were fuelled by theosophy and his own syncretism of mystical ideas. For him, some of his later projects stretched far beyond the normal limits of art, and one partially written piece was designed to bring about the dissolution of the universe into nothingness. The Sonatas take us on a journey from his early post-Chopin soundworld through to refined sensations and rarefied sounds of his later Symbolism, and although his ideas descended through decadence to insanity, his musical judgement never left him.

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Marina Frolova-Walker is Gresham Professor of Music. She is a Russian-born British musicologist and music historian. She is Professor of Music History and Director of Studies in Music at Clare College, Cambridge. 

Professor Marina Frolova-Walker is a specialist in the Russian music of the 19th and 20th centuries. She has published extensively on Russian music and is a well-known lecturer and broadcaster for BBC Radio 3. Among her many awards and appointments, she is a Fellow of the British Academy and was awarded the Edward Dent Medal in 2015 by the Royal Musical Association for her achievements in musicology. She was a Visiting Professor of Russian Music at Gresham in 2018-19. 

Professor Marina Frolova-Walker said:

“I am honoured and excited to take up the position of 36th Gresham Professor of Music, and I am delighted to have such eminent predecessors as John Bull and Iannis Xenakis. Bringing knowledge about music to a broader public has always been one of my passions, and the work of several recent Professors of Music such as David Owen Norris and Roger Parker has been an inspiration for my own activities as a public lecturer. 

“My first lecture series features the artistic project of the Ballet Russes, brainchild of the great impresario Serge Diaghilev. Prior to Diaghilev, no one thought that ballet could be transformed into a provocatively modern art, a platform for cutting-edge experiments in music, choreography and design. The project had its roots in Diaghilev’s inspired marketing of “Russianness” in the Parisian arts world, and he continued to develop his ideas until his circle had become an international hotbed of artistic innovation. “Surprise me!”, Diaghilev would say to anyone with a new proposal, and he did indeed bring about a stream of artworks that still surprise and delight us today.” 

You can find more information on Marina and her research interests here: https://www.marinafrolova-walker.com/

Professor Frolova-Walker's lecture series are as follows:

2020/21 Russian Piano Masterpieces

2019/20 Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes

2018/19 Russian Opera and the State

All lectures by the Gresham Professors of Music can be accessed here.

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